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How Manchester United could line up against Chelsea amid defensive crisis

Manchester United’s bid to haul back an 11-point deficit on fourth-placed Aston Villa faces a mammoth task on Thursday as they travel to Stamford Bridge to take on bottom-half Chelsea.

Erik ten Hag’s side nearly got away with a ‘highway robbery’ on Saturday before Kristoffer Ajer’s 99th-minute equaliser rescued a 1-1 draw for Brentford.

The Red Devils allowed 31 shots on goal in a game marred by injury setbacks as fitness problems forced Raphael Varane and Victor Lindelof off after the break.

Lisandro Martinez took the latter’s place after rejoining the squad following a lengthy spell on the sidelines. But the Argentine renewed his calf injury in training yesterday.

On the bright side, Varane is available for selection despite being left in the dressing room at half-time of United’s clash against Brentford and will probably partner up with Harry Maguire.

With Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia still out, Aaron Wan-Bissaka is the leading candidate to start as a makeshift left-back, even though he struggled in his new role at the Gtech Community Stadium.

Given the Englishman is uncomfortable using his left foot, Ten Hag may consider switching him back to the right, which would see Diogo Dalot move to the left.

Kobbie Mainoo will retain his indispensable status in the double-pivot, leaving injury-hit Casemiro and underperforming Scott McTominay in a head-to-head battle for the remaining midfield spot.

As the Brazilian picked up a minor thigh concern against the Bees, the Scotland international is the front-runner to slot alongside the teen prodigy.

Even though Alejandro Garnacho had an underwhelming game in London, his first-team status is not in jeopardy, considering Mason Mount has yet to regain full fitness.

The ex-Chelsea playmaker made his Man Utd breakthrough at the weekend after being subbed on for Marcus Rashford, who should start on the left wing.

Bruno Fernandes will be in the middle, tasked with creating chances for Rasmus Hojlund, whose last Premier League contribution dates back to a match-winning brace against Luton Town in February.

Manchester United potential starting line-up:

(4-2-3-1): Andre Onana; Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire, Diogo Dalot; Kobbie Mainoo, Scott McTominay; Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Alejandro Garnacho; Rasmus Hojlund.

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